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Book Review: The Photographer’s Guide To Silver Efex Pro 2 Bundle by Jason P. Odell, Ph D.

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Silver Efex Pro is a software plug-in from Nik Software that makes it very easy to convert your color images to black and white and it is compatible with a number of different photo editing applications. While to use this product in its basic modes is straight forward and simple, under the surface, it also has a lot of power behind it. The latest version – Silver Efex Pro 2, has brought even more capabilities to this powerful product.

Author and instructor Odell was first introduced to black and white film photography at a young age. At first, the results of creating black and white images in the digital era were disappointing, but as tools became more refined, and better printers were developed, the results have become better than you could produce in a traditional darkroom. One of these tools is Silver Efex Pro 2.

The Photographer's Guide To Silver Efex Pro 2

The author’s mission with The Photographer’s Guide To Silver Efex is to provide you with a clear understanding of the process of creating fine-art monochrome images with Silver Efex Pro. With the release of the new version, he has rewritten from the ground up his book and recorded a set of optional companion videos to go along with the eBook and this has become the The Photographer’s Guide To Silver Efex Pro 2 Bundle which consists of the eBook and video training package. The book is 199 pages in length and is broken down into 11 chapters. The video is 144 minutes in length and consists of 4 separate 720p HD QuickTime videos.

The Photographer’s Guide To Silver Efex 2 eBook

Chapter 1, “Introduction,” is a short passage about the author, a bit of his background with black and white imaging, a brief history of this style of photography, as well as his goals in creating this book. Chapter 2, “Installation and Host Applications,” looks at how to install Silver Efex Pro 2 in the various applications – Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Lightroom, and Apple Aperture, that it is capable of working with.

Chapter 3, “Getting Around in Silver Efex Pro,” examines the various aspects of the Silver Efex Pro interface and how they interact. These include the Preview Window, the Browser Panel, the Adjustment Panel, as well as the other controls that you will work with in the interface to process your images. Chapter 4, “Raw Preprocessing,” describes the overall workflow process before going into what exactly you should do with your RAW adjustments. These RAW adjustments are primarily concerned with exposure and tone curve, saturation, sharpening, and retouching your images.

Chapter 5, “Adjusting Global Tone and Contrast,” now looks at your editing process once you finish your RAW adjustments and you send it into Silver Efex Pro 2. Here you will work with the global changes within your image. These include adjustment controls, brightness, global contrast, levels and curves, using a Zone System map, as well as adjusting global structure. Chapter 6, “Selective Adjustments,” shows you how to control the look in more local areas of your picture. Here you will see how to work with Control Points, multiple Control Points, and protection Control Points.

Chapter 7, “Special Effects,” examines what can be done to enhance your image once the basic image editing steps have been completed. These include the adding of film grain, color toning, adding a vignette, burning edges, borders, and processing your image to mimic specific film types. Chapter 8, “Working with Style Presets,” is a quick and easy way to get started with Silver Efex Pro and as you grow more comfortable, a place you can customize the presets into your own making.

Chapter 9, “Standard Recipes for Monochrome Images,” describes basic techniques for working with black and white image types. They include portrait, landscape, infrared, sepiatone, and solarization. Chapter 10, “Advance Techniques for Photoshop Users,” now shows you some specialized techniques that are tied to Photoshop and Photoshop Elements as they require the use of layers. These include the use of layer masks, smart filters masks, adding grain to a color image, and more.

Chapter 11, “Gallery of Monochrome Images,” takes a look at and describes and details the processing of quite a number of the author’s images. There are also technical details on the capture of the shot. “Appendixes,” include a listing of keyboard short cuts for SEP2 and a breakdown of what the tools in the adjustment panel does.

The Photographer's Guide To Silver Efex Pro 2

The Photographer’s Guide To Silver Efex 2 Video Companion

This is a set of four QuickTime movie videos that effectively follow the book detailing to you what the book has touched upon. The videos are broken down into four parts. Part I – Introduction and Workflow, this covers the first four chapters of the book – About black and white photography, installation, and showing you how to navigate the interface.

Part II – Silver Efex Pro 2.0 Interface, looks at chapters 5-8 and shows you how to work with the controls within SEP2. Part III – Example Images, now takes you through working with SEP2 on example images. This is effectively chapter 9 live with mostly new images. Here you will see the steps taken to process through different types of images with different processes.

Part IV – Advanced Techniques for Photoshop, now walks you through the techniques that you were exposed to in chapter ten. These are the ones that you need to have Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements to be able to work with as you need to have the ability to work with Layers.

I found that I really liked The Photographer’s Guide To Silver Efex Pro 2 Bundle. Beyond the book being well written and easy to follow, I found a few things that I didn’t know, and I have been working with Silver Efex Pro since the first version came out. It is also very complete in its coverage and laid out in a structured in a logical manner.

What I really liked though was the companion videos. Not only do you have the ability to see what the author is doing, but he does a very good job of providing the insights into why he does specific items while at the same time suggesting that these things can change according to tastes.

The Photographer's Guide To Silver Efex Pro 2

While all of the videos are really well done, to me, the third video – the one on examples, really makes this worth the price to get the videos because of the nine or so samples that he walks through and demonstrates his techniques on the examples.

The eBook The Photographer’s Guide To Silver Efex Pro 2 is available for download from the author’s website Luminescence of Nature for $24.99. The companion videos are $29.99. Or you can buy the combination for $44.99 and save $10. If you want to learn Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2, then I can highly recommend The Photographer’s Guide To Silver Efex Pro 2 Bundle.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.